Kirkconnell projects $150 – $190 million price tag for project
International engineering and project management consultancy firm Royal HaskoningDHV has been tasked with the redesign and costing estimate for the contentious cruise berthing and port facility.
Tourism Minister Hon Moses Kirkconnell announced that the multinational firm had been awarded the tender for the project as he spoke with reporters during a during a media roundtable session on Wednesday (20 July) afternoon.
“With this tender award, the government will be acquiring the necessary information to speak from an informed position regarding the costs of the project. Additionally, this design work will help mitigate environmental damage done during construction by having the piers designed in deeper waters,” he told reporters.
Speaking with The Cayman Reporter on Thursday (21 July) Deputy Premier Kirkconnell said the civil engineering report is expected to be completed in late third quarter of this year.
“So before the end of the year it will be completed,” Mr Kirkconnell said.
However, he declined to state if there will be shovels in the ground for the project before the 24 May, 2017 election.
“I look at this way, we are following the process to do what best practice has provided for us to do in moving the cruise berthing forward. We had a directive from Cabinet to report to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to look at the financing model with the cruise lines and then we also chose to look at putting the piers in deeper water or changing the angle of the piers to have less of an environment impact and that is when we asked Baird and that was the last engineering study,” he explained.
The results of that study, the Tourism Minister said, found that the piers could be put into deeper water.
“We cannot do anything until we know what the cost estimate will be on that, so that is what this civil engineering work is being done now by Royal Haskoning. It is looking at that what is the cost for the piers to go into deeper waters and then once we get that it gives us the ability to look at the financial modeling that we need,” Minister Kirkconnell contended.
While Mr Kirkconnell could not give a definitive figure that the project could cost he said the projected price tag for the entire cruise berthing facility could fall between $150 to $190 million.
Government is seeking to enter into a financial model with the cruise lines to make the project happen and Minister Kirkconnell said the interest from the cruise companies has been “very positive.”
Last October the Deputy Premier Kirkconnell, together with Premier Hon Alden McLaughlin, announced that government had ordered a redesign of the initial plan submitted by Baird & Associates with a view to have the piers moved into deeper waters to minimise the environmental damage from the project.
The initial design contained a pier depth of 50-55ft. However, the new design would incorporate a depth of 85-90ft which the consultants said could be done.
An RFP (Request for Proposal) for the civil engineering design work was issued in May, which Royal HaskoningDHV was awarded to take the project forward.
The project has been the subject of controversy in Cayman and has sparked protests from environmental groups that have expressed concern about the environmental damage the multimillion dollar project would cause.
However, both Premier McLaughlin and Minister Kirkconnell have assured that every step is being taken to ensure the environmental impact is minimised. They have stressed in the past that without a cruise berthing facility Cayman would be placed at an economic disadvantage and would not be able to adequately cash in on the cruise ship market especially with other similar facilities set to come online in the coming months.
Minister Kirkconnell, speaking at the media roundtable on Wednesday, also provided an update on the Owen Roberts International Airport expansion project which he said is “still on budget and on schedule.”
In May the Cayman Islands Airport Authority (CIAA) and McAlpine and Associates signed on the dotted line on paving the way for the start of Phase 2 of the $42.5 million Owen Roberts Airport Expansion (ORIA) project.
Minister Kirkconnell pointed out that the $3 million phase one contract was completed on time and on budget and phase two has now started.
This, he said, includes the renovation and expansion of the arrival area, departure lounge, and check-in lobby.
“Completion of the entire project is expected summer of 2018,” he added.
Pointing to the runway extension, the Tourism minister said the CIAA is currently reviewing the design bids for the extension of the runway and “more information will be provided to the community once this procurement process has concluded.”
The ORIA business case, he said, called for 20-year plan with contingencies outlined should ‘trigger events’ occur and “increased arrivals, creating demand for more airlift, creating demand for more rooms is considered a trigger event.”